Mrs Leroy didn’t hear about the attack from me. She heard about it in the middle of March from Myra who I still think of as her pet. Myra didn’t ask me if she could tell Mrs Leroy, didn’t communicate it beforehand or anything. I just got a text from Myra one day after I had told her saying she had spoken to Mrs Leroy about what happened and I was to move out as fast as possible, she said Mrs Leroy should phone me later. I assumed that meant later that day. It was either a weekend or the school holidays so I was in the house with nowhere to really go, things were largely calm that week and people had stopped knocking on my door. I waited in my room filled with dread, Myra was downstairs but I wasn’t sure who she was with or if she was just on her phone. Whenever her iPhone 5s rang I had another burst of anxiety worrying if Mrs Leroy was phoning her. I still can’t deal with the default iPhone ringtone. My mind was running through the worst. What if I got back from work one day and all my things had been kicked out onto the street? I was probably being paranoid but I had no contract proving that I lived there so no legal standing. I waited like this for days until one lunchtime I finally got her call.
I distinctly remember how I was sat on my bed on trying to be as quiet as possible as Myra had been forwarding Ahmed’s threats via text message. Although nobody was approaching me in person by this point I didn’t want to make myself obvious. I was towards the far end near the window watching YouTube on my phone, my video was interrupted by a call. I had Mrs Leroy in my contacts as “Proprio” short from the french propriataire, homeowner or landlady. I couldn’t really get out of answering, I knew she would phone Myra who would knock on my door. I sat down on the floor with my back to the warm radiator and answered. I tried to talk quietly because I didn’t want anyone eavesdropping with the paper-thin walls. Her first question was if I had been to the police. I probably shouldn’t have told her no. Then I was asked to tell her what happened and she then asked why I would even want to live with someone who had done that to me. This shocked me as I didn’t know anything about victim blaming back then. I said I didn’t think that it meant that I had to leave, I just told her I could find ways of avoiding him and with the commutes to and from Paris I was barely there. She said I was to find somewhere else and leave as soon as I had done, she also said if I involved the police she would kick me out. Until then I was to continue paying rent and paying back the deposit. I had started looking for somewhere else as soon as I had been attacked anyway while avoiding them I figured I could just move out and get away. Although with my studies I didn’t think it would be easy to move with all the exams starting in April, May and June.
There I was being illegally housed by someone who had no intention of giving me a rental contract or even a bit of paper saying she was housing me for free while I was paying undeclared rent. I was administratively homeless meaning I couldn’t pay taxes, claim benefit or have a valid demand for social housing. I declared taxes anyway, I figured they’d go after her if it wasn’t right. After all what she was doing was much worse than what I was doing, she was French and a lawyer, she knew the risks. I applied for benefits when I moved in, I just stopped with the claims. I also went to the town hall in Paris to update the address of my social housing file before I was attacked, I went back after to see if these people could do anything but they said with me being homeless they couldn’t help. Sadly the system is very broken out here. I could have rented a letterbox and used that as my address, but it would have been expensive and I would still have a long time to wait. In Paris for a single adult it takes on average 5-7 years to be allocated a studio flat, my demand was only two years old.
Mrs Leroy didn’t contact me personally after that. I think I saw her a few times in passing on the rare occasions she actually came to the house. The last time I remember phoning her was in July when I got the keys to my cupboard flat, saying I had found someone who was willing to house me for free until I found a job. It wasn’t strictly true, I had the first month free on the condition I cleaned it. She asked what I wanted to do for a job and I told her I had my childcare qualification so I was looking for anything nursery based. She said she’d see if she had any friends wanting an English-speaking babysitter. I said that was kind and thanked her as I got on the train to get some of her things from the house to take them to my flat. I still get annoyed by people who think that working in a nursery is the same thing as babysitting, but I held my tongue because this point I already had a job I just didn’t want her knowing. I haven’t seen or heard from her since when she didn’t give my deposit back I never bothered contacting her. I put it down to Myra accusing me of damaging X, Y or Z and put it behind me. Getting out was so liberating, and honestly, I didn’t want to speak to her or any of the housemates ever again.